Going through a divorce or legal separation is an extremely stressful time in your life. There are many things to consider including, division of assets and debts, maintenance (alimony), child custody and visitation, and child support. It is important to have a knowledgeable and compassionate attorney on your side to ensure you are making informed decisions and to help you navigate the many complex issues involved in dissolution.
Sometimes, a person may desire to file for a legal separation rather than a divorce. While legal separation can provide many of the same results as divorce, including asset and debt division, custody and parenting plans, maintenance, etc, the end result is that the marriage itself is not dissolved. Legal separation may be an option for individuals who think reconciliation may be possible in the future, for couples who would like to maintain marital benefits (i.e. health insurance), or for various other reasons. If the parties are not able to reconcile in the future, they may then choose to convert the legal separation into a dissolution.
A paternity matter is the legal avenue available to non-married parents to establish custody, visitation, and/or child support. Although a common misconception, this does not necessarily mean that a DNA test will be required. The actual paternity testing (DNA test) is only necessary if the paternity of the Father is disputed. In a paternity proceeding, the Court establishes a Parenting Plan. A parenting plan acts as a guide for parents to utilize regarding custody, parenting time, decision making, and financial arrangements for the children. Without a Court Ordered Parenting Plan in place, one parent could suddenly relocate with the child across the country, withhold parenting time from the other parent, or make a major decision regarding the child without consulting the other parent.
There may come a time when you determine that your current parenting plan is no longer in the best interest of the minor child and that it is necessary to modify the plan with regards to custody and/or parenting time. To modify custody and/or parenting time, a party must show the Court that there has been a substantial and continuing change in circumstances so as to make the current parenting plan with respect to custody/ and or parenting time unreasonable, requiring a modification to serve the best interest of the minor child. The change of circumstances could include relocation by one parent, the incarceration of a parent, a parent's repeated failure to follow the current plan, or the remarriage of one parent. The change in circumstances cannot be temporary and would need to have a substantial effect on the children to warrant a modification. Modifications can become highly contested matters, but may be necessary to ensure the best interest of the children.
Once child support has been established, there may come a time when the award needs to be modified. To modify child support, like child custody, the petitioning party must show that there are changed circumstances so substantial and continuing as to make the current award unreasonable. In making this determination, the Court will consider the financial resources of both parties. If the Court finds that the financial circumstances of the parties would result in a change of child support from the existing amount by twenty percent or more, a modification is appropriate. Changed circumstances which could result in a modification of the child support order, could include, a change in custody and/or parenting time, a significant change in one of the parent's incomes, or when one or more children have become emancipated.
Adoption is the process whereby a person legally becomes a part of a family which is not their birth family. There are several types of adoption, including, but not limited to stepparent adoption, adult adoption, and relative adoption. In order for an adoption to take place, the birth parent(s)' rights must first be relinquished either voluntarily (through waiver) or involuntarily (through termination). When filing for adoption, if the parent(s)' rights have not already been relinquished, you will also need to file for termination of parental rights.
The purpose of an Order of Protection is to prevent someone from abusing, harassing, or stalking you. To file for an Order of Protection, you must meet the following requirements:
Once you have requested an Order of Protection, the Judge will review the documents. If it is determined that there is an immediate and present danger of abuse, an Ex Parte Order of Protection will be put in place until the hearing. A hearing is then held to determine if a full order of protection should be issued.
Keefe Family Law, LLC offers limited scope representation and document drafting. This means that a party is representing him or herself, but may hire an attorney for a limited purpose, such as to appear at a hearing or to draft documents. This enables persons who may not otherwise be able to afford representation to receive some assistance in their legal matters. Oftentimes, this may include the drafting of initial divorce or custody paperwork, the review of settlement documents, or motion drafting.
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